County tears down its first dilapidated home

Published 11:44 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

After many attempts by the county to contact a property owner to clean up a dilapidated house, the county has taken matters into their own hands.

As part of Pearl River County’s clean up campaign, structures that are in poor shape are starting to be torn down by the county, if the owners refuse to take action. Only abandoned house and other such structures will be torn down, said District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday.

That was the case with a house on Terry Lane in the Ozona community, which, according to neighbor Margie Westbrook, has been an eyesore for some time. She said her father used to own the home, even helped build it up from a shack into a proper home back in the 1970s, but sometime after it was sold to its current owner, it was not properly maintained.

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Westbrook said the house started out as a shack in the 1960s, but in 1975 her father helped build the shack into a house. At the time it belonged to a man named Wayne Terry, for whom the road on which it was located was named. After the home changed hands a couple of times, it was occupied by some people who like to party at times, Westbrook said. Recently it was abandoned and since other people have used it as a temporary party place, Westbrook said.

A tour of the home prior to demolition showed it had been abandoned for some time. Old clothes, beer cans and a half empty bottle of Boon’s Farm littered the home. Weeds had grown up so far that only after a close inspection of the property could anyone tell a house stood there.

Thursday morning the county brought out its own equipment and employees and began tearing down the structure after many failed attempts to contact the owner to take care of the problem. Holiday said several attempts have been made to contact the owner so the owner could remedy the problem after Westbrook brought the matter to his attention in March of 2008. With no response from the owners, the county had no other choice.

The cost to tear down the house, including time and man hours, will be paid eventually in the form of a lien on the property. Holiday said if the property is ever sold, that lien will first need to be satisfied.

“It’s an investment in the community is what it is,” Holliday said.

Planning and Development Director Ed Pinero Jr. said two more houses are scheduled for demolition starting next week. One of the structures is located on Lee Street and another is located on Holcomb Carroll Road.

For the most part, county residents have been cleaning up their own property after they are contacted by the county, Holliday said. Only in situations such as the house on Terry Lane will the county come into tear down a structure.

A example of property owners taking care of their own problems on property they own includes cases in Laura Villa and Green Briar in Nicholson where 19 houses and mobile homes were voluntary demolished or removed, Pinero said.

District V Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said the county tearing down houses will not be typical of what the county wants to do, but if properties in need of attention are left in states of disrepair, the county is prepared to take action.

“Maybe this will get the people’s attention that we mean business,” Smith said.